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TEEN TITANS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON BLU-RAY REVIEW

Teen Titans: The Complete First Season Blu-ray
Studio: Warner Archive
Release Date: January 23, 2018

Synopsis: With awesome super skills and powers galore, these crime-fighting partners kick butt and squash evil like nobody's business! But as roommates in Titans Tower, it's every hero for him/herself when it comes to living in peace. Not even super heroes can settle fights over who's in control of the TV remote. In these 13 action-packed adventures, the Titans face all your favorite villains - Mad Mod, The Puppet King, Killer Moth and, of course, their arch-nemesis Slade - in one power-packing showdown after another. Some battles even pit the Titans against each other. Featuring bold animation, funky music and fun characters, this complete Season One from the hit TV series is an intergalactic knockout.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
Featurettes: "Finding Their Voices," Toon Topia Bonus Cartoons (The Hiros Episodes 1 and 2), "Comic Creations," "Puffy Ami Yumi Featurette," Puffy Ami Yumi Music Video, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi Sneak Peek.


Teen Titans: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
By James Harvey

Light-hearted, fun and riddled with charming character beats and cool action, Teen Titans left a definite mark on the superhero animation landscape when it debuted in 2003. The animated series amassed a huge following, one that remains devoted to the series to this very day (and, after revisiting the first season, it's easy to see why). And finally, nearly 15 years later, those fans get to experience this charming animated series in sweet widescreen HD, and it's truly something to behold. Warner Archive has whipped up a stellar release for Teen Titans: The Complete First Season, an excellent Blu-ray title that superhero animation aficionados should check out.

One of the many strengths of this series is how confident it is right out of the gate. Teen Titans's character designs, each member's distinct character quirk and place on the team, or just the overall tone, Teen Titans makes everything clear right from the start. The creators behind this series knew that - at the time - an action series like this could be a risk, but their conviction in their abilities is tangible from the get-go, and that helps in really giving the show the steady foot it needs against its detractors. The show wasn't afraid to do things a little differently. It even sets up some long-term storytelling by introducing semi-regular series foil Slade before we even see the heroes. It's a gutsy move - to introduce the big bad before even seeing if fans will take to the teen superteam - and it pays off tremendously. Like the show's tone and character designs, Teen Titans took more than a few risks, and they paid off tremendously.

It also helps that Teen Titans takes the time to give every member of the team the spotlight for at least one episode, sometimes more. Not only do these episodes reinforce their part in the group, but they tend to help push character development and (usually) provide some really insightful, great beats. And, honestly, these are great characters and the team dynamic between the five is inspired. A personal favorite is the Cyborg-centric episode "Sum of His Parts," which includes a nice scene between our cybernetic hero and a young fan which (way ahead of its time) really showcases the importance of representation.

Starfire also gets the spotlight with "Sisters," which brings Blackfire to the series," and Raven gets a solid showcase with (appropriately) "Nevermore," which nicely hints at the conflicts to come for her. Viewers also get to learn a little more about Beast Boy with "Forces of Nature" and "Deep Six," the latter which also introduces Aqualad. Robin gets the lion's share of character development in the first season of Teen Titans, primarily due to his obsession with learning just who Slade is and what he's up to. "Masks" is arguably one the best episode of the first season, eclipsed barely by the tense "The Apprentice" two-parter, which provides our heroes with their first prolonged duel with Slade. It's top-notch television, folks.

Teen Titans holds up well, nearly fifteen years later and, honestly, upon revisiting, it seems better than I remember. Is every episode a home run? Of course not, as it is with nearly any other series. "Car Trouble" is the weakest of the season, but that's not exactly a slight given just how high some of these episodes soar. For example, "Mad Mod" is an absolutely bonkers romp that's one of the series' creative highlights. It's a stellar series and, if for whatever reason you haven't given it a shot, now is the opportune time to. It's a breathe of fresh air from the standard superhero fare, and offers up a fun, unique take on the beloved DC Comics characters. Give Teen Titans a go! It's a series well worth your time.

As for the actual Blu-ray release, Warner Archive has put together a nice package for Teen Titans: The Complete First Season. Mimicking the show's original DVD release, attractive promo art for the series is plastered on the Blu-ray's packaging and disc. The only thing that's really missing from the old DVD releases is the "DC Comics Kids Collection" banner that used to adorn some of Warner Home Video's old DC Comics-based animated releases. Thankfully, the solid presentation continues on the actual disc itself.

The video transfer is bold and relatively crystal clear, nicely bringing the show's bright color scheme to vibrant life, though there are a couple issues. Some episodes are littered with white specks that intermittently pop on the screen. The image also appears occasionally blurred and washed out at times, particularly with scenes involving quick, fast motions. This could possibly be the result of the actual source material, as digital coloring at Warner Bros. Animation was in its relative infancy as this show was rolling out. Macroblocking is also noticeable, varying in noticeable amounts episode to episode. The audio is as clear as can be, however, thanks to an excellent DTS HD 2.0 mix. Even with the small image issues, Teen Titans has never looked or sounded so great.

In terms of bonus content, the extras here are ported over from the original Teen Titans: The Complete First Season DVD release. Presented in standard definition, extras are a mix of featurettes and short-form content. Bonus content includes a "Finding Their Voices," which dives into the casting process of the Titan voices, and we hear from each one of the voice actors (sans Hynden Walch) both in and out of character (and man, how young does Khary Payton - aka Cyborg - look here?). The "Comic Creations" featurette takes a look at the comic book origins of the team, and offers up details on how the creative settled on its approach to the series. The other extras include a music video for the series by Puffy Ami Yumi, a brief featurette on the band and a look at their animated series. A couple Toon Topia episodes round out the offerings. All in all, it's not bad, and it's nice to have these extras included here on the Blu-ray.

Overall, for fans of Teen Titans, this is a no-brainer purchase. Not only is the entire first season presented in stylish HD available on Blu-ray, but it also ports over bonus content from the original DVD release. Granted, Teen Titans: The Complete First Season would've been worth it for just the episodes alone, but the bonus content is a nice touch. A fun series finally given its due on Blu-ray, let's hope Warner Archive keeps it rolling with Teen Titans: The Complete Second Season in the near future (and perhaps The Batman?). In the meantime, pop this release in your player and get lost again in this wildly inventive series! Go! Highly Recommended!

Review copy provided by Warner Archive.

Note: This review will be moved to the "Teen Titans" subsite once it has been fixed - which is going to be soon! It's being worked on right now, so stayed tuned for an update! Coming Soon!